The UK Cards Association is advising customers to be aware of a new variation on an old-style scam that involves people being telephoned by fraudsters and duped into handing over their debit or credit card, and revealing their PIN.

I’m indebted to Mick Pinder (Overton Corner Shop) for forwarding the email sent by the police to neighbourhood watch co-ordinators.

Goes like this: Someone rings you, claiming to be from your bank, saying their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card, or that your card is due to expire and needs replacing. You may be asked to ring back using the phone number on the back of your card - which further convinces you the call is genuine. However, the criminal keeps the line open at their end so, when you make the call, you are unwittingly connected straight back to the fraudster. (So, I guess at this point you should go and make a cup of tea before ringing.)

Then, by seeming to offer you assistance, the fraudster tries to gain your trust. In most cases you are asked to ‘cancel’ your existing card, or to ‘activate’ or ‘authorise’ a replacement card by keying your PIN into your phone’s handset. (no, No, NO; don’t do this at all.)

The conman, posing as a bank representative, offers to pick up your card from your home, sometimes giving you a replacement card, which is a fake. In some cases a genuine courier company is hired to pick up the card, which the victim has been asked to place in an envelope.

A variation of the scam involves the imposter ringing a prospective victim and claiming to be from the police - again with the aim of going to the victim’s home to collect the card and PIN.

Be assured, neither your bank nor the police will ever ring you and tell you that they are coming to your home to pick up your card, so never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it.

And your bank will never ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone.

If you think you have been the victim of a fraud or scam of this nature, you should call your bank or card company immediately to discuss it.

You can also verify all this by having a look at www.financialfraudaction.org.uk for more information.